It is no secret that the nondairy ice cream flavor selection in the grocery store is severely lacking. Obviously this depends on where you live, but I think I speak for most of us nondairy confection connoisseurs when I say ANY addition would be appreciated. This Vegan Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream was born out of this frustration. It’s creamy vanilla ice cream base is absolutely loaded down with dark chocolate and pretzel chunks and finished with a salted caramel swirl. Dreyer’s needs to bow down!
Ben and Jerry Bringin’ It
When I was in college I remember the exact MOMENT I found out that Ben and Jerry’s would be releasing four nondairy flavors. At this point there was very little in the way of purchasable vegan ice creams and to hear that a major brand was going to be stepping into the almond milk arena was incredibly satisfying. Fortunately for me, I went to college in Los Angeles so all of the flavors were available immediately upon release.
I tried and loved them all. To this day I still believe Ben and Jerry’s to have the best store bought dairy-free ice cream around. That said, the most important thing to come from this venture for consumers was not the four flavors themselves BUT the influx of nondairy products from all sorts of brands that followed. Once demand was established, other companies followed suit. However, there is still a long way to go before I will be truly satisfied with my grocery store frozen section selection. Until then, I will continue to create recipes just like this one for Vegan Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream.
Vegan Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream Ingredients
For the Caramel Sauce
- Sugar: Caramel is made from a mixture of butter and granulated sugar. Do NOT substitute brown sugar as this combination will make toffee instead. The sugar will be heated by itself on the stove until completely melted. This is where the “caramelization” takes place. Low and slow is best. You should also avoid any kind of sugar substitute. Sorry, it won’t work.
- Vegan Butter: Your dairy-free butter will be added to the melted sugar after it has been removed from the heat. This will give the caramel a glossy sheen and a richness in flavor.
- Full Fat Coconut Milk: To keep our caramel sauce dairy-free we will add full fat coconut milk in place of heavy cream. This will both thin out our caramel sauce and cool it down enough for both transfer and general use.
- Sea Salt: Salt is a known flavor enhancer and sweet caramel sauce is no exception. Sea salt will provide a delicious contrast so that we don’t get lost in the sweet richness of the sauce.
For the Ice Cream
- Canned Coconut Milk: Full fat, canned coconut milk is a great dairy-free replacement for heavy cream. Be sure you aren’t purchasing canned coconut cream or light coconut milk. The fat in the coconut milk will give our ice cream the thick creaminess we desire.
- Nondairy Milk: As we don’t want the coconut flavor to be super prevalent in our finished product, it is important to add in another nondairy milk. Almond, soy and oat milk work best. Rice milk has a bit more water so it typically doesn’t perform as well.
- Agave Nectar: Agave nectar, also known as maguey syrup or agave syrup, is a sweetener produced from several species of agave. Blue-agave syrup contains 56% fructose as a sugar providing sweetening properties.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is a neutral or “flavorless” vegetable oil that won’t conflict with the flavor of your finished finished product. It will also give the ice cream that melt in your mouth effect.
- Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is is an effective thickening agent, emulsifier, and stabilizer that prevents ingredients from separating. This is extra important when making ice cream at home as you will be without access to regularly-used manufacturing additives.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: Vanilla bean paste is very similar to vanilla extract. The main difference is the consistency and potency. VB paste is thicker and has a gel-like texture. When added into baked goods, it is also possible to see the vanilla bean flecks which is desirable here. If you can’t find vanilla bean paste, you can substitute the insides of a single vanilla bean.
- Chopped Dark Chocolate (50-70%): When talking about dark chocolate, 50-70% cacao refers to the amount of the chocolate bar that is made up completely of ingredients derived from the cocoa bean. The remainder of the chocolate will be made up of sugar or other flavor enhancers like vanilla. If you would prefer a milder dark chocolate, keep your percentage closer to 50%. If you like a less-sweet chocolate, 70% is the way to go.
- Mini Pretzel Twists: Cheap, mini pretzels can be found at just about any store and any brand will do here. Sub gluten-free pretzels if you would like to make this recipe gluten-free.
Please remember if you make this recipe to snap a pic and share with @censoredbaker on instagram!Print
Vegan Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream
Creamy, nondairy vanilla ice cream loaded with dark chocolate and pretzel chunks and finished with a salted caramel swirl.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Freeze Time: 16 hours
- Total Time: 24 hours
- Yield: 1 Quart Ice Cream 1x
- Category: Frozen Dessert
- Method: Freeze
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
For Caramel Sauce
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp full fat coconut milk
pinch sea salt
For Ice Cream
1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 c almond, soy or oat milk
3/4 c agave nectar
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 c dark chocolate (50-70%), chopped
1 c mini pretzel twists, chopped
1. To make the caramel sauce, add sugar to a small saucepan. Heat pan on medium-low, picking it up to swirl sugar every 30 seconds or so. No need to stir. Keep a close eye so the sugar doesn’t burn and be patient. Once sugar in completely melted and brownish in color, remove pan from heat. Drop in vegan butter and whisk vigorously. Mixture will bubble and hiss but keep going! Whisk in coconut milk and sea salt. Allow caramel to cool slightly in pan before transferring to an airtight jar. Place jar in refrigerator. Caramel will thicken as it cools.
2. To make the ice cream base, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well-combined. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Pour mixture into an airtight container and place in refrigerator. The caramel and ice cream base should chill for at least 4 hours prior to being run through ice cream maker but 6-8 works best.
3. Once ice cream base have been thoroughly chilled, run it through your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions. Many ice cream makers come with a bucket/container that should be left in the freezer for 8 hours prior to use so be sure to read the instructions for your machine. Once ice cream base has been run through ice cream maker, fold in chopped dark chocolate and pretzels.
4. Pour 1/2 of ice cream into an airtight container. Drizzle 1/2 of the prepared caramel sauce over the top. Top caramel with other half of the ice cream and drizzle with remaining caramel. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of ice cream to maintain freshness. Seal container and place in the freezer to firm up for 6-8 hours.
*Prepared ice cream will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for 1 month.
**If you prepare ice cream base in the morning you can run it through your ice cream maker in the evening and then freeze overnight. This might be the most efficient way.
***Chilling ingredients/equipment is key here. By keeping everything as cold as possible you will give yourself the best chance for a great result.
****Recipe can easily be made gluten-free by swapping in gf pretzels.
Keywords: vegan ice cream, nondairy ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, pretzel ice cream, chocolate pretzel